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A LAWYER for a sex preda­tor ac­cused of mur­der­ing two girls aged nine has pointed the fin­ger at one of their fa­thers, say­ing po­lice spent “32 years build­ing a case against the wrong man”.

For­mer roofer Rus­sell Bishop is on trial for the sec­ond time for the 1986 killings of Karen Had­away and Ni­cola Fel­lows.

In a case known as the Babes in the Woods Mur­ders the girls were sex­u­ally abused and stran­gled on the South Downs near Brighton in Oc­to­ber of that year.

In an open­ing speech, Joel Ben­nathan QC cast sus­pi­cion on Bar­rie Fel­lows, Ni­cola’s fa­ther, sug­gest­ing he was “com­plicit” in sex­ual abuse.

He told ju­rors at the Old Bai­ley: “Only one per­son is on trial here sit­ting in the dock – Rus­sell Bishop.

“But the law al­lows a de­fen­dant like him to point out facts, ask ques­tions, to the jury that might sug­gest the pos­si­bil­ity that an­other per­son may have car­ried out th­ese aw­ful at­tacks.

“We will ask ques­tions of wit­nesses to show that when the girls went miss­ing there was some­one very close to them who has no al­ibi. That some­one made comments after the killings that are far more in­crim­i­nat­ing than IN THE DOCK: Rus­sell Bishop now and ( in 80s any­thing Rus­sell Bishop said.

“That some­one is some­one who may ac­tu­ally – un­like Mr Bishop – have been able to or­der Ni­cola Fel­lows to meet him in Wild Park.

“That some­one has a guilty se­cret – that he has been com­plicit in the sex­ual abuse of Ni­cola Fel­lows, which shows an in­ter­est in pae­dophilic sex.

“In the end it might mean he could not let Ni­cola Fel­lows tell the world what has been hap­pen­ing. That per­son is her fa­ther, Bar­rie Fel­lows.”

Mr Ben­nathan sug­gested the po­lice had “spent 32 years build­ing a case against the wrong man”.

The trial has heard how Ni­cola and Karen went miss­ing while play­ing to­gether in Wild Park after school.

Fol­low­ing a search by po­lice and vol­un­teers, the girls were found dead the next day in a wooded den.

The Court of Ap­peal had or­dered a fresh trial in light of new DNA ev­i­dence after Bishop was cleared of the girls’ mur­ders in 1987.

Three years later, Bishop was con­victed of the kid­nap, in­de­cent as­sault and at­tempted mur­der of a seven-year-old girl at Devil’s Dyke, also on VIC­TIMS: Karen ( and Ni­cola the South Downs.

Bishop, now aged has de­nied mur­der.

Karen’s mother Michelle told ju­rors how she’d raised con­cerns in 1989 about Bar­rie Fel­lows’ “strange” be­hav­iour and un­usual comments after the killings. 52,

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